Momentum for EU ratification of Marrakech Treaty for blind persons

No change in EU law is needed for implementation of right to read Marrakech Treaty
European Commission corrects course on Treaty ratification

The Marrakech Treaty, agreed upon last June, means applying a global exception to copyright to enable access to reading materials for millions of blind and visually impaired persons. It would allow the cross-border shipment of formatted works for a deprived population that aims to overcome its “book famine”. The EU first needs to sign the treaty, then it needs to be ratified and, finally, it needs to be implemented into the laws of the 28 EU member states. This whole process could be undertaken in 2014.

At an event at the European Parliament on December 18th organized by the European Blind Union and TACD Pierre Delsaux, Deputy Director General for DG Market of the European Commission stated that no changes in EU legislation was needed for the ratification and implementation of the Treaty into EU and EU member state laws. This statement is in stark contradiction with the position taken by DG Market Head of Unit for Copyright Maria Martín Prat who stated before the European Parliament´s Legal Affairs Committee in November that implementation of the Treaty would have to wait for new EU Copyright legislation that is now under consultation (a process that would take up to 3 or 4 years). On the contrary, Prat´s superior Delsaux said that the Marrakech Treaty should “not be mixed up with the general debate about the future of copyright in the EU”.  Pierre Delsaux also rejected the idea put forth by some member states that a cumbersome and complicated EU centralized register was needed for all works to be covered under the copyright exception of the Marrakech Treaty.

Dozens of blind persons from around Europe have lobbied the European Institutions demanding a swift ratification of the Marrakech Treaty by the European Union. Leaders of major visually impaired organizations spoke at the European Parliament conference sponsored by MEPs Luigi Berlinguer, Eva Lichtenberger and Francisco Sosa Wagner. Speakers at the event included Rodolfo Cattani from Italy, vice-chair of the European Disability Forum, Barbara Martín, head of European relations for the Organización Nacional de Ciegos of Spain, Wolfgang Angerman from Germany in representation of the European Blind Union and other representatives from Austria and France.

All those present pledged to continue campaigning until the Marrakech Treaty is fully implemented in the European Union and effective globally.


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